Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Top 13 Favorite Kirby Games

Good morrow, everyone! =) It is now 2012, and I had a good idea about the first thing to do today. I have a lot of favorite video game series as well as video game characters, and in my opinion Kirby is one of the best video game characters out there. My, how time flies! Kirby's been around since 1992, nearly two decades now; and I thought what better way to start off the new year than by discussing my personal Top 13 Favorite Kirby titles. Why Top 13, you ask? Because I think it's a good number, personally. Super Smash Bros., or any game where Kirby appears as a cameo, will not be counted. These are my personal favorites, and if for some reason you find the list unfair or not like you wanted it to be, you can make your own top countdown. To each their own. So let's not waste any more time, so fluff up your feet, sit back, and relax as you read my Top 13.

13. Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy, 1992)
This is the game that started it all. Simple and enjoyable, and short, too, Kirby's Dream Landhas nice stage designs, memorable enemies, fun boss fights, and in my opinion some of the best background music ever heard on the original Game Boy. Kirby is unique in that he can inhale enemies, and he can either swallow them or exhale them. Even though he didn't have his trademark copy ability here, which he would eventually gain in Kirby's Adventure for the NES in 1993, there were a few items that could be used against enemies: like the microphone to get rid of all enemies onscreen, the bomb which you could exhale towards enemies in front of you, and of course the hot curry. How can you talk about this game andnot mention the hot curry? One bite out of that, and flames will start spewing of Kirby's mouth for a limited time. Although this game is really short at five stages, there is one thing that makes up for that: the Extra Game. After you beat the game the first time, you'll be given a code to access the Extra Game, which is the same game only harder; with faster bosses, enemies that may sustain twice your damage, and enemies that suddenly become faster and more dangerous. But if you beat the game's hard mode, man does it pay off. This game became such a classic, that it was remade a few times, which I'll get to later. Short, but sweet!

12. Kirby Squeak Squad / Kirby Mouse Attack (DS, 2006)
This game is often regarded as the weakest out of the four Kirby games that were released for the Nintendo DS, and while I do not completely concur with that, I can see why many would come to that conclusion. Kirby Squeak Squad (Kirby Mouse Attack in Europe) centers around Kirby trying to get back his strawberry shortcake after it's been stolen by a mousy gang called the Squeaks. Initially I thought the plot was a little weak, but the more I played it the more I grew to appreciate it. Controls are just like that of the Game Boy Advance Kirby titles, right down to the control scheme, but with one twist. This time around there are bubbles with abilities inside it, and once Kirby swallows them they'll go right to his stomach (the bottom screen). Afterwards, you can decide to either combine the abilities or to throw them out by making him exhale them. Beware, for his stomach can only hold up to five items. The visuals look like it came out of a really good-looking Game Boy Advance game, and the music is quite catchy and at few times quite haunting (remember that ambient piece you heard in that one stage?). Many of the abilities you'll prowess are really nice, especially the animal power up (my favorite in the whole game). If you search thoroughly, there are chests gathered around, and in the contents will be scrolls (to further increase the extent of a certain ability), spray cans (to change Kirby's color), puzzle pieces, ghost medals, and so forth. The enemies are cool, and the boss fights are really decent. The one complaint gamers found with this game is that it's short in that it can be beaten and/or completed in a few hours' time. For being the first game of the series I played on the DS, it's not bad. I like it as it's a good game, but not as highly as most of the other games in the series.

11. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64, 2000)
For the longest time I've been curious about this game, and despite having grown up with the console that it was released for (among others), I never got to experience Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards during its heyday. But once I got to play Kirby's first 3D adventure in 2011, my thoughts are that it's really, really good. Consensus among gamers is mixed, in that some love it while others hate it. I like it a lot, but not enough to love it. The first thing I noticed when playing the game is that it's a 2.5 platformer, but the camera angles are slightly different here and there while at the same time maintaining the sidescrolling aspect. It vaguely reminded me of the early PlayStation One classic Pandemonium! in this regard, sans the spiraling camera angles of course. The cutscenes are remarkably well-done (and I could swear they play at a faster rate than the game's visuals, do), plus the visuals are pretty to look at, although they're starting to show their age. The gameplay is largely the same, however you're granted the ability to combine two abilities to form up an even different and even more potent ability, whether you combine it with a different one or the same one. Try anything! The songs are very nice, and very fun to listen to. The stage designs are nice, and the enemies and bosses are fun to bout, too. There are also segments where you ride a cart with Waddle Dee (who's your companion here), and piggyback on King Dedede (also your companion this time) as he swings his hammer to clear the way forward. This game has two different endings, and in order to obtain the good ending you must gather all the crystal shards that have been scattered throughout the universe. That advice with combining abilities, you should heed that, and pay close attention to the colors. Now, what don't I like about this game? Like many gamers and fans, I find it a little appalling that Kirby does not have indefinite flight in this game. Stay in the air in float form long enough, and Kirby will give way and fall down, so use your time sparingly. Another thing I personally found distracting was the boss fights. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but once you deplete all their health the first time around, they get their second wind and turn up on you and try to be more powerful. And let me tell you, the first time around, it's very distracting, but it shouldn't be the case afterwards. Otherwise, I really enjoy this game. I like how all the animal helpers (especially Nago, Pitch, and Chu Chu Kirby's Dream Land 3) make cameo appearances as living statues if you use the Stone+Boomerang ability (why that combo is beyond me?). It's not as fun as some of his best games, but I think it's a fun game in its own right.

10. Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Game Boy, 1995)
Believe it or not, but the very first game I experienced that starred Kirby was this one. For the longest time I don't think I'll ever understand how I did not play the first game as well, even though I was aware of its existence back then. But I digress. Kirby's Dream Land 2 follows along the roots of Kirby's Adventure, only it also incorporates a few original elements as well. The plot this time around is that the rainbow bridge has broken up into shards, and each of the seven shards has landed in one of seven different continents of Pop Star, so once again, it is up to Kirby to save the day. But he won't be going alone this time, for throughout the adventure you'll be accompanied by one of three animal helpers: Rick the hamster, Coo the owl, and Kine the fish (whom, as much as I like, I feel are overexposed, albeit as cameos, in Kirby's other games, especially his recent ones). Each of the animals have their own unique qualities, theme songs, strengths, and weaknesses, and they can be used to bring Kirby to hard to access places. The visuals are nice, and the music is quite decent, though it doesn'tquite reach the standards of Kirby's Dream Land's BGM, to my ears. If you play this game on a Super Game Boy cartridge, there's added sound, which gives it some ambient atmosphere. Kirby's back with a few abilities, which work in different ways whether or not you use it with an animal helper. Try it, you'll be quite surprised. The different environments are a sight to behold, for Game Boy standards, and the bosses are fun to combat. Like Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, there are two endings, which add a bit of replay value, and the only way to fight the true final boss is by collecting the seven rainbow shards. Be careful, for they will not be easy to collect; same can be said for 100%ing the game. This is a really enjoyable game, with a really enjoyable cast as well as an equally enjoyable adventure. One of my top favorite original Game Boy titles of all time.

9. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror (GBA, 2004)
Kirby & the Amazing Mirror is a game you may or may not have heard about. It's not as well known as most of his other games, and I think that's a shame, really, as it's really worth a look. One day, as Kirby was taking a stroll, a shadowy figure split him up into four Kirbies, and sent them inside the world of mirrors. The way back will have to be earned, for it has broken into pieces the moment they landed there. Talk about seven years' bad luck. Now onto the game itself: this is basically the result of what would happen if Kirby mashed up with Metroid[vania]. And frankly, the outcome is absolutely fantastic. This game is huge, in that it is a very nonlinear game. This game is also notable for being the sole title to not feature King Dedede, as a boss or as an ally. I liked how you could decide to either go by yourself, or with accompaniment by any of the other Kirbies. Summoning is fun, though you'll have to watch out for the battery. The power ups are fun to use, especially the secret Super Smash Bros. ability. The visuals are splendid, and the music is great. What also makes this game huge is how there are treasure chests scattered about, and most of them will have to be accessed with a specific power up; and if you missed some, you can always resort to your map, for it lets you know. Kirby & the Amazing Mirror is a game very well-worth checking out, and one that's got lots and lots of replay value.

8. Kirby Air Ride (GCN, 2003)
Originally intended to be released as an early Nintendo 64 racing title, Kirby Air Ride was eventually brought for the GameCube to little to no fanfare critics. I'd like to say I understandwhy this game is ribbed on by some, but I'd be lying if I did. It's not like it's trying to mimicMario Kart, so it must be something. This game, personally, is very fun. The visuals are gorgeous, and the soundtrack (lifted from the Kirby animé Hoshi no Kaabii) is a delight for the ears. The various race courses are fun to navigate, and to keep things from growing stale, you can choose which star or vehicle (each with different strengths and weaknesses) to ride on, as well as change Kirby's color and/or race as Meta Knight. There are also two more game modes in Kirby Air Ride, one being a top down racer in the style of Super Offroad, and another being City Trial, where you roam around the city, gathering stats for your vehicle and fulfilling some tasks, if the need arises, in the allotted time. There are various courses, racing vehicles, and other things to unlock, and it adds to the replay value, in my book. Wish I understood why it gets the criticism it gets. I've always thought it was a great game.

7. Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA, 2002)
While Kirby's Dream Land 2 was the first Kirby title I experienced, I didn't truly become aKirby fan until I played Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land back in 2002. A portable remake of the 1993 NES game Kirby's Adventure, this game was a really fun game to experience. Kirby could run, he could slide, he had a plethora of abilities he could absorb, there were secrets abound. Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land was like Paradise when I first played it at age 11. The animation was seamless, the visuals were great, the enemies were good, and the bosses were huge. The stage designs are nicely done, and the ways secret rooms could be accessed were sweet. It was just a very charming and enthralling game to me, and it still is. Also to break the monotony were some fun mini-games and "arenas" where you could bout with midbosses. For the longest time, I didn't realize that the crescent moon could be used as a door (I was wondering why the status only stayed at 98%). The penultimate stage in the final world is an homage to the first Kirby's Dream Land, completely black and white, and it's a very good homage to begin with. If you managed to beat the normal game 100%, an extra game would be available to be accessed, and it's the same game as normal except your health is diminished by three, making things a smidge harder. The first time I knew of this game was by looking at an ad of a magazine (which sadly I don't have anymore), and I just had to play it. Never mind that it was an advertisement for Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, 4Kids' adaptation of Hoshi no Kaabii (I didn't watch it much back then, and honestly, I'd settle for the Japanese original, as it's better than 4Kids' dub). This is an awesome game, and one that holds a special place in my heart.

6. Kirby's Dream Course / Kirby Bowl (SNES, 1995)
Kirby's first 16-bit title is a very memorable game, and a good alternative for mini golf, with Kirby as the ball. Kirby's Dream Course (Kirby Bowl in Japan) is an isometric-viewed mini golf game with great courses, great colors, and great environments. The first time I played this game back in 2005 I was addicted to it. The gameplay is so exciting, and the two-player mode was really fun (I miss that). The game offers ingeniously-designed courses, with enemies that need to be defeated in order to make the hole appear in order to access the next course. Strategizing and planning your shots is key to advance, but you'll have to be very careful not to fall off the side. Oh, did I mention that each time you make a move, you lose a tomato, which can only be replenished by defeating an enemy? If you're in the clear, and have not made it to the hole by the time all four of your tomatoes are gone, you lose a life. You only have a few lives, and the only way to earn a life is by getting a hole in one, which is easier said than done. With fun courses, enriching gameplay, and good replay value going for it, the only dark cloud in the silver lining is the final boss, which is so easy to vanquish that you won't need much effort to do it. But other than that, Kirby's Dream Courseis an excellent game, and a good one to play with friends.

5. Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS, 2008)
The first time I played the 1996 original Kirby Super Star (Kirby's Fun Pak in Europe) on the SNES in 2005, I thought what I played of it was pretty fun. Sadly, my addiction to Kirby's Dream Course was so high that I didn't play this game enough. They're both great games, mind you, I just wish I spent an equal amount of time with both when I first played them at friend's house while Hurricane Rita struck. My home and neighborhood went undamaged, that's good, but I was a bit sad when I left and came back home. When I heard that Kirby Super Star was going to be remade for the DS, I was excited, for it was going to allow me a second chance with it. Kirby Super Star Ultra is a series of games in one package. FromSpring Breeze (an homage to Kirby's Dream Land) to The Great Cave Offensive to Milky Way Wishes, each game offered a various amount of action as well as a various amount challenge and a various amount of fun, which adds a bunch of replay value to the whole experience. For the first time, Kirby had a long health bar, he could do various things with his power ups, he could guard (with either shoulder button), and he had another action in the game: he could create an ally with the press of a button (as long as you have a power up with you). That feature alone is fantastic. The areas are wonderfully designed, and the boss encounters are really special, especially the one with Marx. Exclusive to the DS remake are a few extra game modes, one where you play as Meta Knight, and another being a Helper to Hero arena, among others. I enjoy trying to master this game by speedrunning through them and trying to beat them in one life (for the most part, I've succeeded). There are also cool 3D cutscenes which are great to look at but are marred by a slightly blurry VHS quality. The soundtrack is one of the best in the series, and the visuals are splendid to the eye. Many clamor it as the best Kirby game in the entire series, bar none, but I don't necessarily agree with that, as you'll soon see. Fantastic game, or should I say, games!

4. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SNES, 1997)
Poor Kirby's Dream Land 3. By the time this game was released, the Nintendo 64 was selling like hot cakes, which meant that not many people got a chance to experience the SNES title at the time of release. Those that did experience it either loved it or hated it, for many reasons. When I started playing this game on the Wii Virtual Console in 2009, I can honestly say I fell into the former category, for many reasons. I found Kirby's Dream Land 3fun and quite spellbinding. The visuals are some of the most unique in the series (or any game for that matter), with parallax scrolling, moving foreground, and color-layering effects which gave its' worlds a lot depth. The various worlds are fun to explore, and the characters' and enemies' animations are fluid. The control scheme is good, the only issue is that Kirby is a slow walker this time around, meaning you'll spending a lot of time running. The abilities he used in Kirby's Dream Land 2 are once again used here, and now he's also got the broom ability (the only game of the series that has that). The background music is great, and the songs are really fun to listen to. Once again, Rick, Coo, and Kine have come to aid you, and for the first (and last) time, three other animal helpers came to assist you to: Nago the cat, Pitch the bird, and Chu Chu the octopus). Once again, each animal helper has their own strengths and weaknesses, which can be used to take advantage of certain situations. This also has three endings, where the best ending comes from collecting all the heart stars that have been scattered throughout Pop Star. The problem with this game is that it's a little easier than some of Kirby's other games, but I don't mind that so much. I might be in the minority here, but I prefer this game to Kirby Super Star Ultra. Throw in some cameo appearances by well-known and lesser-known video game characters and a great final boss fight, and you've got my favorite 16-bit Kirby game of all time, and a very underrated one at that.

3. Kirby Mass Attack (DS, 2011)
The first news I saw of this game, it really piqued my interest. In the screenshots were several Kirbies roaming all at once. How was that going to work? When I played it, I feel it worked really well. Like Kirby Canvas Curse (Kirby: Power Paintbrush in Europe and Touch! Kirby in Japan), this game requires the stylus, only this time it's in the form of a sidescrolling platformer. Throughout the adventure will be enemies, midbosses, and bosses that will have to be taken down. And you know what they say, "the more, the merrier". Some stages can be accessed by one Kirby, but you'll soon find that several of the stages will require a certain amount of Kirbies in order to be granted entry. You can walk, you can run, you can fling, you can make a Kirby attack an enemy via stylus. Consuming 100 points in food will create another Kirby, and you can only deal with up to ten Kirbies. Throughout some stages, there will be large items with a number 10 on it, meaning it will take that many Kirbies in order to pull it away in order to get a token. The visuals are decent, the Kirbies' animations are solid, the various styles of music in the game is sweet, and the control is simple and fun. The traditional Kirby enemies make an appearance here, but also making an appearance are also original enemies, like bat-like creatures, flaming dark skulls, and even zombies! Very shocking, honestly. Thorough inspection of each stage will lead to several tokens, and the stages are really inviting and really atmospheric. The bosses are also great, especially the final one. By collecting enough tokens, you'll be unlocking some special features, like games, full tasklists, and a sound test. Several of the mini games on there are fun, like Brawl Ball, a fun pinball-style game where Kirby is the ball, and Kirby Quest, a mini-RPG with Kirbies fighting off enemies, et al. What's neat about the latter is how the title design resembles that of Arcana's, and if you get a game over here, look at the top of the screen (if you're familiar with the aforementioned game). Among the cameo appearances are a few characters from Hoshi no Kaabii, Rick, Coo, and Kine, Lolo and Lala, Rocky, and there are even special appearances by the Squeaks here. How's that for a surprise? There are even several tasks to fulfill, which will not be easy, and in the end I love this game. It provides a decent amount of challenge, fun playability, and in my opinion it ranks as the best Kirbygame available for the Nintendo DS.

2. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii, 2010)
When I played this game shortly after it got released, I fell in love with it. Developed by Good-Feel, Kirby's Epic Yarn is such a cheerful game! One day Kirby gets transported to a land where everything and everyone in there is made of yarn; once Kirby gets there, he becomes yarnified himself. It's there that he meets Prince Fluff, who becomes good friends with Kirby and agrees to help Kirby return to his home Dream Land. But before that can happen, Kirby tries to help Prince Fluff by getting his homeland back in order, for the segments of the world have been separated, and the only way to restore it to the way it once was will be by gathering a series of magic yarn. While Kirby does not inherit his trademark copy ability in this game, the various game mechanics here are really fleshed out, and fun to boot. Kirby can swing, turn into a car as he speeds up, become a parachute, roll up the enemies into a ball of yarn, and there are moments when Kirby will transform into other things during certain situations: one moment Kirby will turn into a dolphin, and in another he will become a firetruck for a limited amount of time. The graphics are beautiful (every thread, every color, every detail), and the soundtrack is one that makes me so happy, as it's largely gentle, playful piano music. The bosses are fun to fight, and Prince Fluff's world is magnificent, and I love the variety of it all. There is even a room you can decorate with the items you buy from the shop (ingame), and roommates which challenge you to fun games. The cutscenes are also fun, although the narrator's voice is embarrassingly cheesy, it doesn't detract from the fun. This is just a beautiful game from beginning to end, and at one point I thought, "This game is perfect, how could there possibly be another game in the series that could surpass it?". Well, stick around for the next one and find out.

1. Kirby's Return to Dream Land / Kirby's Adventure Wii (Wii, 2011)
All I've got to say is, "Oh, my God, this game is absoflipping marvelous!!" I don't even know where to start. Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Kirby's Adventure Wii in Europe) is the secondKirby game made available for the Wii, and one many gamers were anticipating for a long time. Back in 2004, rumors of another 3D Kirby platformer had spread, but for awhile it was thought that it was going to be released for the GameCube, only it never happened, so hopes for a Wii release started growing. I'm under the suspicion that this was the rumored Kirbyplatformer of years past, and if that's the case, then let me tell you, it was very well worth the wait! The Lor Starcutter has transported to Dream Land in the blink of an eye one day, and Kirby, Waddle Dee, King Dedede, and Meta Knight saw one lone figure inside it: Magolor. Kirby and gang decide to help fix his spaceship by finding the missing pieces and gears, but they do not suspect what awaits for them beyond. For the first time since Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, HAL Laboratory has developed a traditional console Kirby game with some of the best 3D visuals I've seen for the console. The backdrops are amazing, the various environments are so eye-popping and gorgeous, the animation is the smoothest I've seen in the Kirby games, and everything else in this department is mesmerizing. You thought Kirby Air Ride had great visuals? Oh, no, this is the holy grail of good-looking Kirby games. The gameplay, well, the gameplay needs no explanation at this point, but it's done real well. And remember how you could guard in Kirby Super Star Ultra? Guess what? You can guard here, too! By holding down the A button on the Wiimote, you will be in guard mode. That was a pleasant surprise. The music is downright astounding, and one of the best music soundtracks I've heard in a while. Think Super Mario Galaxy's quality sound, tweak it up to the Kirby level, and you've got some of the best music heard on the Wii outside of the Super Mario Galaxy games. The songs are beautiful, the original songs are really great (the various boss themes, which come to mind, are fantastic), and the remixes of some classic Kirbysongs are mindblowing (most especially that one Kirby's Adventure song remix). The enemies are great as always, and all the power ups in it are superb. Among the new power ups are spear, whip, and water. Also in the mix are special power ups which can be used to break objects with marked stars on them, but you can only use them so long as the countdown bar doesn't go black. The special Beam power up and special Sword power up come to mind, and they function magnificently. The stage designs are wonderful, I don't know how to praise it without sounding redundant. The series of final bosses here is epic, and without spoiling anything, there is a twist near the end which totally caught me by surprise. Inside the Lor Starcutter are various doors which will challenge you with a certain ability, a couple of fun mini games, and even four ability storage rooms where you can test your powers on a practice dummy. If you succeed in beating the Normal game, you can try your luck at Extra game. And if you thought the hard moments in Normal game were hard, then you've seen nothing yet. Extra game has more going on in the stages, harder bosses, harder stages, and bosses who are differently-colored. 100%ing both game modes is quite an accomplishment, and not one that is fulfilled easily. There are also a couple of arenas, the Arena and the True Arena. In the latter you'll fight all the bosses like you've fought them in Extra game, including one secret boss. If both Arenas are survived, then you become the Kirby Master. What a great reward (again, not easily accomplished)! I could talk so much about this game and I still would not have talked about it all. It's that great a game! The plot is perfect, the stages are perfect, the characters are perfect, the enemies are perfect, the music is perfect, the visuals are perfect, the gameplay is perfect, and the amount of challenge it presents is perfect!! It's just an all-around perfect game, in my book! Play it and see for yourself. I guarantee that you'll be surprised at how much HAL Laboratory crammed in here. My number one favorite Kirby game of all time, and one I cannot wait to go through again.

That was my Top 13 Favorite Kirby Game list, I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope all of you have a wonderful new year. Took a lot longer than I thought it was going to (took me practically all day to compose this list and form up my thoughts). But it was worth the time it took! Once Kirby's 20th anniversary comes, I will shout "Happy Birthday, Kirby!" Or, I could do it now, so I won't forget later.
HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY, KIRBY!!! =D
Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment.

3 comments:

  1. "The problem *most gamers have* with this game is that it's a little easier than some of Kirby's other games, but I don't mind that so much."

    How'd that part of the sentence not get there? =/

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  2. Interesting list. I have till saw few lovers of Kirby games. I have played once Night dream in Land from above list which i couldn't play more due to crack game. I don't think that these game are easier than other games.
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  3. Insight this post really huge list about intresting game.Kirby Squeak Squad / Kirby Mouse Attack is really good and also my favorite. The enemies are cool, and the boss fights are really decent. The one complaint gamers found with this game is that it's short in that it can be beaten and/or completed in a few hours' time. For being the first game of the series I played on the DS, it's not bad it's really good. I like it as it's a good game, but not as highly as most of the other games in the series.
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